“This past year, 2011, I was asked this question a lot, and here we are into the first quarter of 2012, and it’s happening again (or still, if you rather). Most frequently, it comes up in regard to my work in the comics industry. Last year was not banner for the ladies, and this one isn’t off to a strong start, either, in fact. Wasn’t good for women within the industry itself, nor within the pages of the stories being told. Those who’ve had the unmitigated temerity to actually comment upon this state of affairs publicly have ended up paying a surprisingly heavy price. The gender of the speaker has been largely irrelevant, though to be sure, it’s the women who’ve stepped up have taken the harder hits. But all who’ve pointed out the absence of women both on the page and behind it have been ridiculed, insulted, and, absurdly enough, even threatened with violence. Conversely, those attempting to defend their mistreatment of women within the industry have revealed a staggering lack of understanding, empathy, and self-awareness, while seeming to rejoice in an arrogance that is near heart-stopping in its naked sexism and condescension.
To say there are those who don’t get it is an understatement; it would be like describing the Japanese tsunami as ‘minor flooding.’”
– Greg Rucka, in an essay addressing the frequently asked question,
“How Do You Write Such Strong Female Characters?”
Free Comic Book Day | In anticipation of Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, the San Francisco Chronicle interviews Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics, who came up with the idea in the first place, inspired by “free scoop” days at ice cream shops. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Free Comic Book Day | John Jackson Miller traces the 10-year history of Free Comic Book Day. [The Comics Chronicles]
Conventions | ReedPop Group Vice President Lance Fensterman takes stock of this year’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo and sees plenty of growth, both in attendees (42,000 this year) and exhibitors. It looks like the show will continue: “We feel like we got the answer we needed. We made maybe a little bit of money, which is fine. Year 3 is when we expect to start to see some positive cash flow, but even more so we felt that the community embraced the event and the turnout and the ticket sales reflect that—and that is just what we needed to see.” [ICv2]
Legal | Todd McFarlane Productions has emerged from bankruptcy after more than seven years, having paid more than $2.2 million to creditors, according to court documents dug up by Daniel Best. Of that, $1.1 million was part of McFarlane’s settlement with Neil Gaiman, which brought to a close the decade-long legal battle over the rights to Medieval Spawn, the heavenly warrior Angela and other characters (it’s unknown how much of that disbursement was eaten up by legal fees and how much actually went to Gaiman; the writer has publicly stated he gives money won in the proceedings to charity). Todd McFarlane Productions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2004 following the $15 million court award to former NHL player Tony Twist, who sued over the use of his name in Spawn for the mob enforcer Antonio “Tony Twist” Twistelli. McFarlane and Twist settled in 2007 for $5 million. [20th Century Danny Boy]
Creators’ rights | Gerry Giovinco points out that the mega-studio that is Walt Disney got its start because Walt signed a bad contract and lost the rights to his creation Oswald the Rabbit. Giovinco calls on Disney, as the parent company of Marvel, to acknowledge and perhaps actually compensate the creators of the products it is marketing: “I can’t believe that a company as wealthy Disney cannot find a way to see the value of the good will that would be generated by establishing some sort of compensation or, at the very least, acknowledgement to the efforts put forth by these creators.” [CO2 Comics Blog]
Digital comics | John Rogers discusses working with Mark Waid on his Thrillbent digital comics initiative. “There are people who are selling enough books to make a living on Amazon, whom you’ve never heard of. Because Amazon made digital delivery cheap and easy. That is what you must do with comics. It’s not hard. The music business already solved this problem. Amazon already solved this problem. It’s not like we’re trying to build a rocketship to the moon out of cardboard boxes. Webcomics guys — and this is kind of the great heresy — solved this problem like ten years ago, using digital distribution then doing print collections and also doing advertising and stuff.” [ComicBook.com]
In February, Stumptown artist Matthew Southworth teased that he and writer Greg Rucka would return this summer with another installment of the Oni Press crime series. Now on his blog he’s revealed the title of the series, “The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case,” as well as the cover art for the first issue, which should arrive in August.
Debuting in 2009, Stumptown follows Dex Parios, a Portland, Oregon, private investigator with a gambling problem who, in the first miniseries, accepted a job tracking down a casino owner’s granddaughter in exchange for settling her debt.
Awards | Two titles from First Second won the graphic novel categories in the 2011 Cybils Awards, literary honors given by bloggers who write about children’s and young-adult books: Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl received the graphic novel prize in the Elementary & Middle School category, while Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost won in the Young Adult division. [Cybils]
Digital | With the Vita on the way, Sony is shutting down its PSP comics service, and users will lose their comics come September. [Gameranx]
Graphic novels | Craig Thompson’s Blankets made Oprah’s list of the eight greatest love stories of all time, taking its place alongside Brokeback Mountain and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. [Oprah.com]
MoCCA on the East Coast, Stumptown on the West Coast—the past two weeks have been busy ones for comics creators and fans alike. I made it to MoCCA, but the grass is always greener on the other side of the country, and it looks like there was a lot to see—and buy—at Stumptown. Here’s a sample of the offerings, starting with Dylan Meconis’s slew of tiny watercolor paintings, above.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week’s guest is Alex Segura, executive director of publicity and marketing at Archie Comics. But we’ll always know him as the guy who founded The Great Curve, the blog that would one day morph into Robot 6.
To see what Alex and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below …
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item.
If I had $15 this week, I’d probably put it towards the latest issues of series I’ve been enjoying for awhile: Batman Inc. #4, New York Five #3, Justice League of America #55 – Yes, even with my nervousness over Brett Booth’s art – (All DC Comics, $2.99) as well as Jeff Parker and Gabe Hardman’s Hulk #31 (Marvel Comics, $3.99).
If I had $30, however, I’d probably put JLA back on the shelf and add The Arctic Marauder (Fantagraphics, $16.99), instead. I found myself enjoying Tardi’s Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec earlier this year, and
Splurgewise, it’s a tough one – I’d like to pick up the collection of Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s second Demo series (DC/Vertigo, $17.99), but I see that the hardcover collection of Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth’s spectacular Stumptown (Oni Press, $29.99) is out this week, and that really falls into the
category of having to have it. I’ll grab Demo next week.
The Stumptown Comics Fest is moving to a bigger venue next April, the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, in order to accommodate the ever-larger crowds that show up each year. “In recent years the exhibition hall has been packed to the gills,” notes the official announcement; “this move to the Convention Center will give attendees room to breathe with 30,000 square feet of exhibition space (nearly double the square footage) and will allow the amount of table to be increased with room for future growth.”
In other news, Indigo Kelleigh, one of the founders of the fest, is returning as its director. Kelleigh, who took some time off to focus on his own work (he is the creator of the Tintinnesque webcomic Ellie Connelly), is back in the director’s chair, and he plans to expand the show beyond its indy roots to include some of the more established creators in the area. This year’s guest list already includes Carla Speed McNeil, Molly Crabapple, Kurt Busiek, Larry Marder, and Barry Deutsch, who got his big break at Stumptown a few years ago: Agent Judith Hansen saw his comic, Hereville, at the show, and Scott McCloud, who had the booth next door, gave him a referral. Hansen took Deutsch on as a client and landed him a contract with Abrams, which will publish the book in October.
Artist Matthew Southworth, who draws Oni’s Stumptown (that’s a page from issue 4 above) and part of the “Grim Hunt” storyline in Amazing Spider-Man, sends word that he’s bringing a new sketchbook and Stumptown T-shirts to sell at the show.
“Unfortunately I was unable to snag an artist alley table this year (there’s a long long wait!), but I will be easy to find at the Oni Panel or at signings at the Oni Booth that I’ll be doing with Greg [Rucka],” he said over email. He add that he’s also doing a special piece for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
- Department of Art by Dunja Jankovic
- Reich #6 by Elijah Brubaker
- Bird Hurdler by Andrice Arp, Theo Ellsworth, Faryl Dalrymple, Zack Soto, Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg and Julia Gfrörer. This is a free book co-published by Sparkplug, Teenage Dinosaur and Tugboat Press.
They also sent over information about a pre-show event on Friday:
On Friday (April 17th) at 4:30-5:30pm @ the Portland Central Library (in the U.S. Bank Room) Sparkplug artists Hellen Jo and Ignatz Award-nominated Dunja Jankovic discuss and read from their work. Make sure you come!
Now, if you’d like to party and see all the new books in person they’ll be available on Friday night at the Guapo Comics & Coffee extravaganza. For more info on that you can check out: www.guapocomicsandbooks.com and take a look at the flier for the event, which is a giant reading and Kukoc awards ceremony. Reading at the event will be: Vanessa Davis, Jon Chadurjian, Coleen Frakes, Julia Gfrörer, Jason Martin, Hellen Jo, Calvin Wong and Corinne Mucha There will be all kinds of stuff going on there.